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committed his emotions to verse form; and so perfect was his art reflected in his Ode to Evening that the reader finds himself under the same controlling spell that the quietude of summer evening in the country magically creates. Swinburne notes the similarity produced by Collins in verse and by Corot in painting.
The poet was keenly disappointed when his volume of odes failed to sell. In a moment of cynicism he bought the unsold portion of the edition and ruthlessly destroyed the sheets. He at intervals after this resumed his poetic labors, but never with the intensity of his former hope. In 1748 he wrote, in honor of his friend James Thomson, that touching elegy so full of languorous beauty beginning with the stanza :
In yonder grave a Druid lies,
Where slowly winds the stealing wave!
A year later he wrote that long poem, On the Popular Superstition of the Highlands, and in 1750 his Ode on the Music of the Grecian Theatre.
In 1754 the crisis of a long smouldering nervous affection culminated in a violent attack of insanity that forced a temporary confinement in an asylum. Later he was released and was taken to the home of his sister in Chichester, where he remained until his death in 1759. He never regained his sanity.
The fact that Collins left us so small an amount of verse needs to be supplemented by the additional fact that not all of it has come down to us. The records of his life hold titles, but the poems themselves have been lost. We know that the author was a severe critic of his own productions, and doubtless much of his work he deliberately destroyed. This is all the more credible because we know that his was an acutely nervous temperament too often ruled by mere whim. We are grateful for the poems that passed the muster of his scrutinizing eye and thus allowed the world to add to its anthology his ringing notes of patriotic passion and likewise those of a sweetly melancholy strain.
LYRICS BY COLLINS
ODE TO SIMPLICITY
O THOU, by Nature taught
In numbers warmly pure, and sweetly strong;
Thy babe, or Pleasure's, nursed the powers of song!
Thou, who with hermit heart,
Disdain'st the wealth of art,
And gauds, and pageant weeds, and trailing pall,
O chaste, unboastful Nymph, to thee I call!
By all the honey'd store
On Hybla's thymy shore,
By all her blooms and mingled murmurs dear;
In evening musings slow
Soothed sweetly sad Electra's poet's ear:
By old Cephisus deep,
Who spread his wavy sweep
In warbled wanderings round thy green retreat;
No equal haunt allured thy future feet:·
O sister meek of Truth,
Thy sober aid and native charms infuse!
While Rome could none esteem
You loved her hills, and led her laureat band;
To one distinguish'd throne;
And turn'd thy face, and fled her alter'd land.
No more, in hall or bower,
Love, only Love, her forceless numbers mean:
Shall gain thy feet to bless the servile scene.
May court, may charm our eye;
Thou, only thou, canst raise the meeting soul!
Though taste, though genius, bless
Faints the cold work till thou inspire the whole; 45
Of these let others ask
To aid some mighty task;
I only seek to find thy temperate vale;
ODE WRITTEN IN 1746
How sleep the brave, who sink to rest
By fairy hands their knell is rung,
There Honour comes, a pilgrim gray,
AN ODE FOR MUSIC
WHEN Music, heavenly maid, was young,
First Fear his hand, its skill to try,
Amid the chords bewilder'd laid, And back recoil'd, he knew not why,
E'en at the sound himself had made.
Next Anger rush'd, his eyes on fire,
In lightnings, own'd his secret stings; In one rude clash he struck the lyre
And swept with hurried hand the strings.
With woeful measures wan Despair,
"T was sad by fits, by starts 't was wild.
But thou, O Hope, with eyes so fair,
And bade the lovely scenes at distance hail!
And from the rocks, the woods, the vale She call'd on Echo still through all the song; And, where her sweetest theme she chose, A soft responsive voice was heard at every close; And Hope enchanted smiled, and waved her golden hair;
And longer had she sung: - but with a frown
Were ne'er prophetic sounds so full of woe!
He threw his blood-stain'd sword in thunder down; And with a withering look
The war-denouncing trumpet took
And blew a blast so loud and dread,
The doubling drum with furious heat;
And, though sometimes, each dreary pause between, Dejected Pity at his side
With eyes up-raised, as one inspired,
Her soul-subduing voice applied,
Yet still he kept his wild unalter'd mien,
While each strain'd ball of sight seem'd bursting from his head.
In notes by distance made more sweet,
Pour'd through the mellow horn her pensive soul: And dashing soft from rocks around
Thy numbers, Jealousy, to nought were fix'd:
Of differing themes the veering song was mix'd;